Goth, industrial, darkwave, death rock – like a demon spawned in the fires of Hades, the music cherished by Charlotte's dark community goes by many names.
Regardless of terminology, fans know the drill: swirling synths, guttural bass, mechanized beats and sepulchral vocals either from the violated tomb or the soulless matrix – take your pick. Dark music will be on the upswing at Digital Noir, an evening of atmospheric dance music hosted by two mainstays of the city's dark subculture, DJ Spider and Michael Price. The event begins at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Milestone on Tuckaseegee Road.
DJ Spider is the alter ego of Suzann Knudsen, who started spinning records in her birthplace of St. Thomas in the U.S Virgin Islands. By the time she landed in Charlotte, Knudsen had discovered the comic convention and cosplay scenes, which subtly influence her attire in the DJ booth. Price draws on his background in visual arts to create backdrop videos and lighting design, elements essential to Digital Noir's stygian atmosphere.
Creative Loafing contacted Price and Knudsen to discuss things that go bump in the night, and on the dance floor.
Creative Loafing: How did you two get together for Digital Noir?
Price: We'd known each other for a while. Spider was doing Return of the Batz and I was doing a night called Installation — and they were sort of similar. She had pulled a Brett Favre and retired and I was getting to the point where I had been DJing with others and I was DJing by myself. She decided to kill Return of the Batz, and I killed Installation, and out of the ashes came a new night called Digital Noir, kind of a mash-up of the two.
You're sharing the DJ booth for this event. How does that work?
Spider: We each come to the music from different angles. Michael's much more the industrial side. I tend to be more on the swishy synth-pop side of things. I'm like the swishy nougat center and he's the hard crunchy side. Everybody can make requests, and if I don't have it, chances are he has it. Our dynamic is interesting because it's the male/female dynamic. I like to sing along. I think like a girl, so I know what girls like to dance to. Guys tend to be a little more stompy, so they get down to harder music.
Can we expect you to dress up in an outfit for the night, drawing on your cosplay background?
Spider: I dress appropriately for the night. I won't go with a superhero-oriented outfit for Digital Noir. It will definitely be on the dark and spooky side, but also fun.
How would you characterize Charlotte's dark music scene?
Price: To me, it's a family. Before, there might have been a little bit of competition, but right now it's the tightest I've seen in forever. We have bands sprouting up, collaborations between them, collaborations between DJs like Spider and myself; even the place where we perform has become almost the headquarters of the scene. It's The Milestone, which has been considered a punk club. I feel like we have a home there.
How did you get into industrial?
Spider: The thing that triggered everything and really blew my mind was Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine. There was anger, angst, sorrow, loneliness — and you could dance to it! That's the one that flipped my switch and made me look at the darker side of things.
Price: For me it was first time I heard Skinny Puppy in 1991. I heard the album Rabies, and it changed things. When I heard that album, it turned the tide.
Best goth song ever?
Spider: The one I always come back to is Sisters of Mercy's "Lucretia My Reflection." It defines the goth-rock era for me. It triggers emotions and memories of going to my first goth clubs.
Price: Whichever one I happen to be listening to at the moment.